Naloxone

Naloxone is usually pronounced "nuh-LOCK-zone."

Naloxone is an opioid antagonist. That means it is a drug that can stop the effects of opioids. Naloxone reverses the "respiratory depression" (stopped breathing) that happens when someone takes an overdose of opioids or opiates (What's the difference between opioids and opiates? Click here.)

Naloxone is often used by paramedics, fire fighters, and police officers to save the life of someone who is dying from an opioid overdose. It is easy to use. It is gradually becoming easier to get. In Oregon, pharmacists can dispense naloxone without prescription; the only requirement (presently—see information about HB 3440 below) is a brief training on how to use it. It is a useful addition to first-aid kits in schools, college and university dormitories, performance venues, restaurants and bars, theatres, stadiums, anywhere people congregate.

Naloxone is available for friends and family members to keep on hand for emergency use if they know someone who misuses prescription opioids or "street drugs." It's also available for families of people being treated for chronic pain if there are children or teenagers in the household who might experiment or accidentally get into someone else's pain pills.

Here are some links to useful information about naloxone:

Naloxone Fact Sheet
Brief annotated fact sheet about naloxone from the Drug Policy Alliance, 2016.

"The Fight for the Overdose Drug" article from The Atlantic.
General-audience story of the national campaign to increase availability and use of naloxone. December 2014.

"Opiate" vs. "Opioid"—What's the difference?
Two similar words we use to describe narcotic (numbness-inducing, sleep-inducing) drugs.

Opioid Overdose Prevention Toolkit
A collection of five easy-to-read articles about opioid overdose with essential safety advice about naloxone and other interventions: Facts for Community Members; Five Essential Steps for First Responders; Information for Prescribers; Safety Advice for Patients and Family Members; Recovering from Opioid Overdose; all published by the United States Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 2016.

The Rising Price of Naloxone: Risks to Efforts to Stem Overdose Deaths
Scholarly article published in New England Journal of Medicine, December 2016. Discusses federal and state efforts to increase availability of naloxone, highlighting one significant barrier: rapid price increases initiated by pharmaceutical companies.

Oregon Law Current law (ORS 689.681) allowing pharmacists to dispense naloxone, but requiring training in its use as a pre-condition for acquiring naloxone or for administering it with immunity from civil liability. Will be modified if HB 3440 (see below) is passed during 2017 Legislative Session.

Oregon Standards of Care regarding naloxone prescription.
Includes key excerpts, with links to full documents, of Oregon Opioid Prescribing Guidelines 2017-2018; CDC Guidelines for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain 2016;
Oregon Prescription Drug Overdose, Misuse, and Dependency Prevention Plan, 2015.

Oregon HB 3440 (Legislation is pending, May 2017)
Removes the training requirement barrier for distributing and using naloxone; immunizes "Good Samaritans" who administer naloxone from civil liability; requires Oregon Health Authority (OHA) to determine and publicize statewide drug misuse treatment capacity; requires OHA to compile and publicize opioid overdose and overdose death statistics quarterly; enables use of the existing Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) to identify and intervene in patterns of excessive opioid prescribing; creates a Task Force on Opioid and Opiate Abuse and Dependency.


Alcohol and Drug Policy Commission Resolution 2017-001 encouraging expanded naloxone availability in Oregon.